“Envy is the ulcer of the soul” ~ Socrates
In today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 55:6-9) we’re reminded that God’s ways are not like our ways. “As high as the Heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts,” says the Lord to Isaiah in the waning words of this passage (55:9). We need only wait until today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16) to look in on one of the most profound scriptural examples of this truth.
In Matthew’s account of the parable of the generous vintner, which was proclaimed about a month or so ago at Daily Mass on the Feast Day of the great Saint John Eudes https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Daily-Mass-Reflections-822, we are reminded of the mystery of God’s mercy. Most of us will be instinctually inclined to side with the complainers. As Bishop Barron points out in his Daily Gospel Meditation, “the one virtue that even little children seem implicitly to understand is justice: “It’s just not fair!” is their incessant lament.
But what exactly are we envious of as it relates to those who come to the Lord’s salvific vineyard late in life? That these souls were steeped in sin, mired in the timeless vices of addiction, lust, wrath, vanity, and the list goes on and on? Anyone who has recklessly and naively lived this life will tell you that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Gratitude is the proper emotion in this situation, a gratitude rooted in the awareness that the gift of faith was yours from the cradle. Unfortunately those who were awoken to God’s love and mercy in the twilight of their life’s journey suffered the same fate as the laborers who stood about hopefully waiting for someone to hire them; simply substitute the word “hire” for “evangelize.” That task, by the way, belongs to you and I. Don’t wait another minute to step up to it.
St. Alphonsus Liguori once said “The soul that loves Jesus Christ does not envy the great ones of this world but only those who are greater lovers of Jesus Christ.“ As adult RCIA Programs begin to ramp up in earnest across the many great parishes of our country, a country that remains so blessed to be able to practice our beautiful Catholic Faith freely, I ask you to keep these Candidates and Catechumens in your prayers. They have come to the vineyard late, but they come ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. For they have been called to learn the faith, love the faith, and defend the faith. So that they too can one day welcome those whom they encounter who have come late to the vineyard.
“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.“ ~ Saint Augustine